If I Could Turn Back Time: Introducing the Bucherer Exclusive L’Epée Time Machin

If I Could Turn Back Time: Introducing the Bucherer Exclusive L’Epée Time Machine

Limited to only 20 pieces, the Bucherer Exclusive L’Epée Time Machine is perhaps the most fantastic collision of science fiction aesthetics, purposeful function, and playful user interaction using the medium of kinetic sculpture that we’ve ever seen.

By James Eton

The words “time machine” instantly transport me back to the mid-1980s, conjuring memories of my childhood home with its (already) outdated 1970s décor because it is there that my inspiration as a scientist and inventor was forged, thanks in large part to the very concept of time machines, their whacky inventors, and the knowledge that “your future is whatever you make it.

The values and aspirations that I extracted from the Back to the Future trilogy (which I consider to be one of the most masterful executions of science fiction cinema ever) have remained with me throughout my personal and professional career, leading me to gravitate towards an appreciation for subjects, objects, and concepts that are well constructed, purposeful, and beautiful.

The Time Machine

Similarly, the clockmaking impresarios at L’Epée 1839 are as uncompromising as Doc Brown when attempting to realize the seemingly impossible by animating design concepts with absolute realism and dedication to engineering perfection. As a result, L’Epée’s mechanical sculptures have been internationally recognized with countless awards and critical acclaim.

More importantly, beyond the artistry and precision that L’Epée brings to the horological world, the brand’s playfulness is the most difficult (if not impossible) to replicate. But it is for that very reason that L’Epée’s timekeeping objects resonate with a broad audience and act as a multigenerational conduit for the appreciation of art, design, and horology.

So, when I view the new Bucherer Exclusive L’Epée Time Machine from the perspective of my inner child, it is a perfect object: whimsical, playful, dynamic, and housing some incredible technology!

However, when looking at it through the lens of an adult, I am struck by the collision of brutalist form and high tolerance mechanical engineering that makes it reminiscent of a combination of the Apollo mission’s Lunar Excursion Module’s landing gear and the Mars Pathfinder rover’s cylindrical IMP camera assembly, with a dash of a flux-capacitor and a sprinkling of H. G. Wells.

The Body

Focusing first on the Time Machine’s tripodal “landing gear,” the angular, brutalist design of these palladium and stainless-steel legs features exquisite finishing, showcasing straight graining and polished anglage. They also have evocative industrial flourishes like stylistic screws, rivets, and miniature shock absorbers as if L’Epée’s designers were making it capable of a safe touch down and once again prove they pay incredible attention to the details.

Next, the time-keeping cylinder is animated and kinetic and sits atop the landing gear via a 360° pivot, allowing it to freely rotate. However, BE WARNED: Spinning the assembly is troublesomely addictive, satisfying, and fun, three emotional concepts that align perfectly with the raison d’etre of L’Epée.

Fortunately, once the user has (eventually) finished playing with possibly the world’s most elaborate fidget spinner, the cylinder can be fixed in position by means of a cleverly designed and satisfyingly tactile friction locking nut that has four projecting 90° sandblasted lever arms that are easy to use. This locking assembly is positioned between the landing gear and time-keeping cylinder and continues the elegant story of function following form.

Interestingly, this functional piece of horological kinetic art evolves the more an observer looks at it. First, its linear movement is encased in a mineral glass tube, bookended by two brutalist skeletonized gearwheels that immediately entice you to touch them.

Once you do, you will discover that both of these solidly built wheels –responsible for uni-directional time setting (left-hand wheel) and mainspring winding (right-hand wheel) – provide satisfying user feedback. Specifically, the right-hand wheel issues satisfying ratchet clicks when winding the mainspring. Meanwhile, the left-hand wheel offers a buttery smooth rotation as it manipulates the two black cylinders that display the time.

Fun Fact: The time setting wheel advances the time only when turned clockwise; however, if turned counterclockwise, it decouples when turned freely spins (at pretty high RPMs if you give it some force!), offering another layer of animation and dynamism that makes this creation so engaging for idle hands.

The Movement

Internally housed within the hermetically sealed “time capsule” crystal cylinder and on full display are the Time Machine’s flawlessly finished components of the L’Epée calibre 1855. Utilizing the movement’s proprietary vertical escapement, this clock has an eight-day power reserve and beats away at 2.5Hz with L’Epée’s signature metronome rhythm.

The clock’s time capsule structure isn’t an accident either; it incorporates horizontal rods spanning the length of the crystal cylinder to mount the movement and the hour and minute rings. These stainless-steel rods match the overall robustness of the Time Machine’s design and the carefully considered approach to the entire structure’s engineering.

Plus, as an Easter Egg, of sorts, the front-facing upper rod has an engraving that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1980s time machine LED display, “DESTINATION TIME: PRESENT TIME.”

Lastly, the time is displayed digitally via two circular gearwheel apertures with diamond-shaped, sandblasted pointers that frame the correct time as the hour and minute rings rotate.

Final Thoughts

As an objet d’art, the Bucherer Exclusive L’Epée Time Machine is beautiful and captivating to behold, almost to the point where an observer might fear to touch it. However, the main goal of the Time Machine’s design is to foster fun, tactile interactions with it, losing perspective of its sculptural and time-keeping functions before it reverts without fanfare back to its designed purpose: to tell the story of time.

Limited to only 20 pieces, the Bucherer Exclusive L’Epée Time Machine will retail for $38,500. For more information, visit Bucherer’s website.

(Images © Bucherer)

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